By Bill Pan
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said on Oct. 1 that he plans to file a motion sometime this week to remove House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from his job, saying the chamber’s top Republican went against agreements with conservatives and worked with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown.
“We need to rip off the Bandaid. We need to move on with new leadership that can be trustworthy,” Mr. Gaetz said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
His statement comes after Mr. McCarthy pushed the funding bill—referred to as a continuing resolution—through the House with the help of Democrats. This measure, which some Republican hardliners argued was the “clean” bill Democrats wanted, would keep the government funded at current levels for 45 days while including $16 billion for federal disaster assistance, as had been requested by the White House.
The bill cleared the House in a 335–91 vote on Sept. 30, ultimately drawing more support from Democrats than Republicans. Just one Democrat, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), cast a “nay” vote, while 209 Democrats joined 126 Republicans in support of the measure.
It was then approved by the Senate on an 88–9 vote and signed into law by President Joe Biden about three hours before a midnight deadline.
“Speaker McCarthy made an agreement with House conservatives in January and since then he’s been in brazen, repeated material breach of that agreement,” Mr. Gaetz said on Oct. 1. “This agreement that he made with Democrats to really blow past a lot of the spending guardrails we set up is a last straw.”
The compromise bill didn’t include any new aid for Ukraine, but Mr. Gaetz accused Mr. McCarthy of lying about “a secret deal” that was struck with Democrats to later pass money for the embattled country, which has already received more than $43 billion from the United States to assist its war effort.
“Overnight, I learned that Kevin McCarthy had a secret deal with Democrats on Ukraine,” the Florida congressman said. “So, as he was baiting Republicans to vote for a continuing resolution without Ukraine money, saying that we were going to jam the Senate on Ukraine, he then turns around and makes a secret deal.”
When asked how many Republican votes he thinks his motion to vacate the speaker will get, Mr. Gaetz said he was confident to have “enough” support from his Republican colleagues.
“Well enough so that when you host this show next week, if Kevin McCarthy is still the Speaker of the House, he will be serving at the pleasure of the Democrats. He will be working for the Democrats,” he said. “The only way Kevin McCarthy is Speaker of the House at the end of this coming week is if Democrats bail him out.”
Unlike the continuing resolution, which takes a two-thirds supermajority to pass, a motion to vacate the speaker only needs a simple majority. If Mr. Gaetz’s motion does come to the floor for a vote with all current members present and voting, it would need 218 votes to pass, the same number of votes Mr. McCarthy needed to become House speaker.
In order for his motion to vacate the chair to be successful, Mr. Gaetz will certainly need support from Democrats.
“I will make no deal with Democrats and concede no terms to them,” he told CNN. “I actually think Democrats should vote against Speaker McCarthy for free.
“The one thing everybody has in common is that nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy.”
Mr. Gaetz was part of a group of Republicans who initially blocked Mr. McCarthy in his bid for the speaker’s gavel. He had also been threatening to move against Mr. McCarthy for weeks.
“He lied to Biden, he lied to House conservatives,” Mr. Gaetz said. “He had appropriators marking to a different number altogether. The reason we were backed up against the shutdown politics is not a bug of the system. It’s a feature.”
In response to the call to remove him from the leadership position, Mr. McCarthy brushed off the threat, saying he “will survive.”
“That’s nothing new. He’s tried to do that from the moment I ran for office,” Mr. McCarthy said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “This is personal with Matt.”